Archive for the ‘Landscape Photography’ Category

Impressions

Saturday, September 15th, 2018

Autumn tree reflections on Bubble Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine 1992

Impressions
(revised from 2003 essay published in Outdoor Photographer.)

I enjoy impressionistic art. As a teenager, my mother worked as a docent at the National Art Gallery when we lived near Washington, D.C., so I often had the chance to visit the exhibits.  I was captivated by the en Plein air approach of Monet and by the pointillism of Van Gogh I viewed there.  Art soon became my favorite class during my high school years. My intrigue with the Impressionist movement led to my experiments with blurred many images years later.

The sensation of light and the emotion of seeing a beautiful moment are the qualities of the style I like.   Impressionism, the French school of painting that developed in the late 1800s, has been defined as a method of depicting transitory visual impressions. One early adherent advised other painters to “submit to the first impression” of what they saw.  This idea, in part, can be attributed to the invention of photography in the previous century.  The Impressionist painters saw the enormous potential of revealing the frozen moments of time as seen in photographs.

In their work, the Impressionists chose to emphasize their direct sensory and emotional responses devoid of intellectual thought.  Painters such as Claude Monet were fascinated by the ever-changing lighting conditions outdoors, and they would return to paint the same scene at different times or weather conditions.   More traditional painters of the day painted only in their studios.  The Impressionists painted on location, working quickly to capture the moment before the light changed.  How similar this sounds to landscape photography!

A critical photographic idea grew out of, at least in part, from Impressionism’s sensory method. The concept of the Equivalent, developed by Alfred Steiglitz, relies on the photographer’s intuitive response to a scene to create an emotional equivalent.  Mentored by Steiglitz, Ansel Adams and Minor White taught this approach to their students.  They used the idea in their own work, applying it using straight photographic technique rather than altering reality.  Reflecting on his own path, Adams once wrote, “If I feel something strongly, I would make a photograph, that would be the equivalent of what I saw and felt…. I’m interested in expressing something which is built up from within, rather than just extracted from without.”

Freeman Patterson, in his book Photo Impressionism and the Subjective Image, discusses another approach, writing “the “impressionist” photographer deliberately abandons physical exactitude in the belief that he or she can convey the reality of feeling more effectively by doing so.”  Patterson wishes to “help photographers venture into some aspects of the non-literal world of photography and to create (or, for that matter, to record) impressions that convey a truth of feeling or spirit.”  If you are frustrated creatively with traditional methods, you might explore this option.

Most of us photograph the landscape by attempting to capture special events in nature, such as mountains in dramatic light, in a realistic and documentary style. Such literal imagery, if composed well and heartfelt, can speak powerfully about the beauty of the land and express the photographer’s unique perspective.   The danger in this straightforward approach is that images can be so blandly descriptive that the viewer is left unengaged and the artist’s viewpoint unapparent.

For the most part, I photograph directly and realistically.  There is usually little doubt that the subject existed as seen in the photograph.  Ideally, the scene is transformed in a magical way, via composition or light, to make an extraordinary image.  When I make abstractions of nature, the reality of the image is only a question because the exposure itself has altered the reality, such as with blurring water, or that I have isolated the object from surrounding clues, not because I have changed reality.

It seems to me that there is a continuum of possibilities between realistic photographs and photo impressionism, a gray (middle gray?) area where photographs have the attributes of both.  “Autumn tree reflections on Bubble Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine 1992″ is a photograph that depicts reality impressionistically.  I exposed the image with my 4×5 camera with a single exposure.  The only factor that “distorts” reality is that the shutter speed used blurred the reflections.  Is blurred water reality?  Is it more real if a fast shutter speed stops the water’s action?  The answers are less important to me than being open to exploring artistic options and having the willingness to experiment in hope for creative inspiration.

My photograph here was made using straight photographic technique, yet evokes an impressionistic feel, returning me to that brilliant autumn afternoon, when harmonious colors blurred in water, like a painting!

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For information about William Neill – Photographer, A Retrospective, private workshops and to connect via social media, visit WilliamNeill.com to sign up for his newsletter updates.

Open Studio Tour coming soon! Sierra Art Trails – October 5, 6 and 7!

Thursday, August 16th, 2018

The photo above shows what my living room looks like during Sierra Art Trails.

We are very pleased to announce that we will be open again for Sierra Art Trails 2018, which is celebrating 16 years of supporting the Arts in the Yosemite Foothills! Mark your calendar for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 5th, 6th and 7th from 10 AM to 6PM. My home studio will be full of my fine art prints, books, and posters. Come visit me, and you can also visit Yosemite while in the area!

NEW BOOK

Featured this year will be my new retrospective William Neill – Photographer, a Retrospective. The first printing is now in limited supply so consider coming to my studio for your own signed copy. To learn more about the book, to read what “others are saying” see here:

 

Book Reviews
TERRA GALLERIA BOOK REVIEW
ON LANDSCAPE BOOK REVIEW
LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY MAGAZINE BOOK REVIEW
THE ONLINE PHOTOGRAPHER

Book Essays
THE LUMINOUS LANDSCAPE
OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHER


INVENTORY SALE!

Once each year, I offer discounts on a large number of prints in inventory.  The good news is that I have so many photographs, but not enough space in my office, so CLEARANCE is the key word!

I hope to see many old friends and meet new ones too!  Let me know if you think you can make it, and ask any questions if you have them. Also, please share this with friends who you think might be interested. Thanks!

See the official website for more details.
http://www.sierraarttrails.org/index.html

Cheers,  Bill

The cost of admission is $20.00 for all participating venues and includes the Sierra Art Trails Catalog, your “ticket for two” for the event. The catalog includes a list of participating artists, examples of their work, and maps to the locations of artists’ studios, galleries, and other viewing locations.  Artists are scattered throughout our mountain communities. Your catalog and map will guide you to each artist’s venue.

See the official website for more details.
http://www.sierraarttrails.org/index.html

Finding Your Voice

Friday, August 3rd, 2018

Autumn Snowstorm, Yosemite National Park, California 2015

Over the years, I have gained a sense of myself as a photographer, finding a certain clarity about what inspires me to photograph and what I wish to communicate. Fortunately, this clarity came early in my career. In my college years, I studied the works of landscape masters such as Eliot Porter and Paul Caponigro, who focused more on the details of nature rather than the broad, descriptive view. Just a few years after buying my first camera in 1974, I moved to Yosemite and never left. Living in or just outside the park continuously since 1977 has been key to my development as an artist. After a few summers working for the National Park Service, I was hired to be the photographer-in-residence at The Ansel Adams Gallery. I got to know Ansel and attended many of his summer workshop sessions, meeting other world-class photographers such as Ernst Haas, Joel Meyerowitz and Jerry Uelsmann. I started teaching photography to park visitors, taking them for daily “camera walks” in the meadow near the gallery. I learned to make my own color prints, ironically, in Ansel’s black-and-white darkroom. I listened to the photographers I met and explored this famous landscape.

Photographers find their voice when they discover what subjects move them most deeply. That passion, that emotion from within is the magic element. An excellent way to concentrate one’s attention is to develop thematic portfolios based on those emotional connections. The first phase of this development is to see what themes exist in your photographs and which of those are the most promising, and to start editing the images into a portfolio that exemplifies your best work.

Curating Your Photography

There are two main requirements for an exceptional collection: there must be a coherent theme that moves you and motivates you, and there should be consistent quality. In any situation where you show your work, great images are diluted when average images are included to “fill out” your presentation.

Giant sequoia and fir tree in the fog, Sequoia National Park, California, 1993

Learning to think in themes is an ongoing process that can continue for years or even decades. As you begin to assess the current level of your work, you also learn to maintain that standard of quality using your editing skills and become conscious of ways to improve your future efforts. There is no set way to do this, so we must learn to trust our own instincts and observations, and listen to the opinions of others we respect. Those instincts depend on how well we feel an image translates our vision, plus the equally subjective process of comparing our images to those of others.

With a long-term persistence and commitment to my portfolios, every year I’ve made a few new top level images, slowly building the depth of each theme. The payoff shows in a new book released in December. The photographs are organized by those main themes: an in-depth look at my “Landscapes of the Spirit” work; my recent “Antarctic Dreams” series; a black-and-white portfolio entitled “Meditations in Monochrome;” my “By Nature’s Design”series of patterns in nature imagery; a portfolio of my ICM (intentional camera movement) work called “Impressions of Light;” and last, but not least, a collection of Yosemite photographs I call “Sanctuary in Stone.”

 

Morning Mist, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 2013



The titles are important because they encapsulate the ideas and passion for each theme, and guide the viewer toward those ideas. More importantly, a theme concept can inform your efforts in the field and subsequent editing sessions. When editing, you not only judge both technical and aesthetic aspects, but you consider whether the photograph adds depth and quality to your chosen theme.

Although the Antarctica photographs were made over only a five-day voyage with Luminous Landscape, my other themes are collections created over four decades. My black-and-white images offer an example of where the inspiration began. Although I’ve gravitated to working in color, early on I was more strongly influenced creatively by black-and-white masters Minor White, Edward and Brett Weston, Wynn Bullock and Paul Caponigro. Seeing the abstract, mysterious and less-literal landscape imagery these photographers often made, I was inspired to strive for the same effect in color. Many years passed as I pursued this goal. Digital technology eventually progressed to the point that allowed for high-quality black-and-white software conversions from digital capture and scans of my color film. When a corporate art project for black-and-white murals was presented to me, I happily dove into the editing and processing of images from my 4×5 film archive. The project led me to expand my initial selections into a full-fledged theme, transforming a long-latent passion for the black-and-white landscape.

Autumn Snowstorm, Yosemite National Park, California 2015

Preparing For Presentation

I recently prepared an exhibit for The Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite. The gallery has been showing my prints since 1983, when Ansel himself approved of my representation there. Each exhibition there has taken on a different flavor depending on the curator, the season and what new images I have made. When deciding what to print, I have naturally focused on showing my most creative work, but the final choices are a collaboration between myself and the curator. Each gallery I work with has a different clientele and curatorial focus and knows their customers best.

Writing an artist’s statement is an excellent way to give voice to a thematic concept and guide the viewer to understand your point of view, whether for a book, exhibition or online portfolio. Of course, photographs are visual communications and should speak to us directly without verbal definition. However, writing can add important depth to the impact of images for any project. Words matter. Ideas matter. For an exhibit there a few years back, I entitled it “Sanctuary,” and I wrote the following artist’s statement for the exhibition:

The theme of Sanctuary provides the foundation of my exhibit selection. Preserves of nature such as Yosemite offer a sense of protection from outside forces, much as do the walls of a church or temple. From within the protected walls, the peacefulness and beauty of Nature, its quality of sanctuary, gives comfort and calm. Given this sense of Sanctuary, the creative energies of an individual are given the freedom to express what one feels, to express the connection between the soul and the beauty of Creation. I can’t speak for others but this is what I have experienced.”

Clearing winter storm, Sentinel Rock, Yosemite Valley,  1990

Although not entirely based on the new book, my Yosemite exhibit was a retrospective drawn from my 40 years living in and next to the park. In writing a statement for the exhibit, I wrote the following words to describe my creative process.

Seeing and feeling beauty is more vital to me than any resulting imagery. When the key elements of photography—light, composition, and emotion—are before me, I am fully engaged, yet detached, without expectations. The magic of my discoveries—whether the dramatic light of a clearing storm or an intimate detail on the forest floor—recharges my spirit with a sense of wonder. The intensity of the experience makes me feel vibrant and alive, the necessary first step to creating a transcendent image.”

Rock, Water and Tree, Cascade Falls, Yosemite National Park, California 2011

I’ve had the good fortune of having my photographs exhibited and published over many years. The first book I illustrated was The Sense of Wonder by nature writer Rachel Carson, published in 1990 by The Nature Company. The success of this book, reprinted in nine editions, led to 10 subsequent books. Flash forward to 2017, and I have a new retrospective book revealing my four decades as a fine art landscape photographer.

The collection, entitled William Neill, Photographer: A Retrospective features 151 images, many never before published. Included are images taken with a 35mm film camera from the 1970s and 1980s, through to my current digital captures. A significant number are photographs made with a 4×5 film camera. It is an amazing feeling as I pulled together 40 years of photography, but there is also great tension as we entered the final stretch of the book building process. Writing my essays, used to introduce each theme, was a challenge, requiring I be both concise and poignant. Essays by Art Wolfe and John Weller supplement my writings in the book. With 151 images in six chapters highlighting my themes, I hope that a sense of my artist’s journey comes through.

Learn to focus on your greatest sources of inspiration. Commit to seeking your own creative vision. Consider what style or themes drive your passion to photograph, and follow that path even if it is “the long road” to success. Good luck and good light.

 

Retrospective Book Now 20% Off

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

William Neill – Photographer: A Retrospective
Introductory Essays by Art Wolfe and John Weller
Size: 295mm x 295mm (11.6 × 11.6 inches)
Pages: 224
Photographic Illustrations: 151
Available: March 2018
Standard Edition:  Suggested Retail is $59.95 USD.
ISBN: 9780993258961
ORDER HERE

NOW 20% OFF RETAIL, ONLY $48.00

Articles and Reviews
The Luminous Landscape
Outdoor Photographer
Lenswork
Terra Galleria Blog
Landscape Photography Magazine Review

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Over the past year and half, I’ve been focused on bringing my retrospective book to life! Pre-order sales were excellent, with books selling in 15 countries, and this past December the UK publisher released the book there and in Europe, in Japan and Austrailia. I will soon have a small number of books for sale, which I’ll be happy to sign and personalize for you. Please see the link below for details, testimonials, and to purchase.

ORDER HERE

If you would like to read more about my book, I’ve written several articles for The Luminous Landscape and Outdoor Photographer, plus I’ve given an interview with Brooks Jensen of Lenswork magazine.

I began my journey as a serious photographer in 1974 when I purchased my first camera. The earliest image in the book was taken in 1976 and the most recent in 2017 – forty years of photography. Both film captures and digital captures are represented. Sixty-eight photographs were created with a 4×5 view camera using transparency film, eight with a 35mm camera and film, and the remaining seventy-five being 35mm digital captures.

Should you have any comments or questions for me, please send me an email.

Kind regards, William Neill

 

 

My book included technical notes, with each photograph showing camera and lens details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Testimonials:
A consummate craftsman, Bill takes photos that deliver the emotional impact of what he felt when taking them—awe at the beauty, plus the high energy of rushing water, a furious wind, or brilliant light… There is wonder all around us; William Neill translates it all into photographic poetry.   –Art Wolfe

William Neill is one of the great landscape photographers of the last hundred years. His images – stunning, haunting, breathtaking, poetic – speak for themselves. There are no words necessary, just admiration. Through, in his own words, “observation and immersion” he has seen and recorded the beauty of the planet. But, more than that, he had captured its spirit. Again and again he shows us “the thread which holds all things together”. This book is an instant classic; truly one for the ages.   – Dewitt Jones

William Neill has been an inspiration to me since my earliest days photographing the American West. His quiet and thoughtful compositions always inspire contemplation and solace.   Guy Tal

During a recent workshop someone asked me about my favorite photographers, and one of the first names that came to mind was my friend William Neill. Bill has been producing consistently beautiful and innovative photographs of nature for decades, and his new retrospective book looks wonderful.   –Michael Frye

William Neill presents photographs that go far beyond mere “pretty pictures.” His work reminds us of our deep connection with the planet, inspires us to seek the beauty of nature for ourselves, and encourages us to see with greater intimacy the beauty that surrounds us wherever nature flourishes.  –Brooks Jensen, Lenswork Magazine

           

ORDER HERE

Special Print Offer from The Ansel Adams Gallery

Sunday, May 13th, 2018

It is my pleasure to announce that The Ansel Adams Gallery is once again sponsoring a special print sale of two of my photographs, offering a 25% discount off the normal price.

Visit The Ansel Adams Gallery for more info or to purchase a print.

Clearing Storm at Dawn, Yosemite National Park, California 2013

Although I generally prefer creating intimate landscape images, when presented with the classic grandeur of this scene with such epic weather and light, I naturally couldn’t resist trying to capture it. Starting before dawn, I photographed two hours of spectacular lighting and swirling clouds and felt blessed to have witnessed it!


Dogwood Blossoms and Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2013

I have been photographing the dogwood of Yosemite Valley for 40 years. My favorite locations are along the Merced River where their branches hang gracefully over the rushing water. I love how these branches form a tapestry effect above the river’s rushing spring runoff.

 

From The Ansel Adams Gallery:
“From time to time on our website, we are thrilled to offer collectors, friends and fellow art lovers, a chance to purchase two never-before-printed images by one of our distinguished Gallery artists at a discounted price, prior to its availability within the general market place.

This month, in celebration of spring in Yosemite, we are offering two complementary images from William Neill: “Dogwood Tapestry, ” and “Clearing Spring Storm.”  While Bill’s original prints normally sell in these sizes up to $450, you can now add one to your private collection for 25% off the initial retail price.  Each photograph is made by Mr. Neill in his studio, printed to current archival standards, signed, as well as mounted, matted and ready for framing.  The time to purchase will begin at 9:00 AM Pacific Time on Monday, May 14th and will expire upon the close of business, Sunday, May 20th at 6:00 PM. Once the offer has expired, we anticipate an order fulfillment time of approximately four to six weeks to ensure the quality of each individual order.  This inaugural printing offer is available for a very limited time, after which, the print will return to full price.  

Email our curator, Evan Russel, at evan@anseladams.com if you have any additional questions about the prints or shipping.”